Neural Networks Group

The cortex is the largest part of our brain, and its function remains a major mystery in neuroscience.  We are only beginning to understand its role in crucial brain functions, such as learning and memory. Our group explores how the cortical neurons, and their dendrites, encode and process information during behaviours. By examining individual neurons and the networks that drive behaviour, we aim to uncover changes that occur in both normal brain function and dysfunction, with a particular focus on brain cancer.

Research interests

  • Sensory perception
  • Memory and learning
  • Neural activity of behaviour
  • Dendrites
  • Brain cancer
Techniques

  • in vivo and in vitro patch-clamp electrophysiology
  • Two-photon calcium imaging
  • Widefield calcium imaging
  • Optogenetics and DREADDs

About our research

Individual neurons are continuously bombarded with thousands of synaptic inputs onto their dendritic branches. We investigate how the brain processes this information by measuring the activity of neurons within the neocortex using a variety of techniques including two-photon calcium imaging and patch-clamp electrophysiology.

Our research specifically focuses on neuronal dendrites, the thin neural processes that actively transform synaptic inputs into neuronal output. The dendritic integration of synaptic input, its modulation and its influence on brain function and behaviour is the focus of our research.

Through our work, we not only aim to reveal how sensory information is received, transformed and modulated in neurons but also how modulation of synaptic integration contributes to the overall neural network activity underlying learning and memory.

Brain cancer is one of the most devastating diagnosis a patient can receive. Unfortunately, despite significant research efforts, survival rates have changed little in the past 40 years and further research is required to understand this devastating disease. Our laboratory aims to contribute to our growing understanding of how neural activity influences the proliferation of brain cancer.

Research team

Research team head

Team members

Research and technical staff

  • Sean Murphy

PhD students

  • Rei Masuda
  • George Stuyt
  • Ann-Sofie Bjerre
  • Heidi McAlpine
  • Liam Leyden
  • Yi Hu
  • Elena Regele Blasco
  • Serena Wang
  • Xiaoyu Wang
  • Eleonora Regolo
  • Lena Kricsfalussy-Hrabár

Masters students

  • Jay Kim
  • Rose Firth
  • Nel Arseven

Honours students

  • Ethan Newnham
  • Nico Glatz

Undergraduate students

  • Jordan Rozario

Selected publications

  • Guzulaitis R, Godenzini L and Palmer LM (2022), Neural basis of anticipation and premature impulsive action in the frontal cortex’, Nature Neuroscience, 25(12):1683–1692, doi:10.1038/s41593-022-01198-z
  • Godenzini L, Alwis D, Guzulaitis R, Honnuraiah S, Stuart GJ and Palmer LM (2021), ‘Auditory input enhances somatosensory encoding and tactile goal-directed behavior’, Nature Communications, 12(1):4509, doi:10.1038/s41467-021-24754-w
  • Murphy S C, Godenzini L, Guzulaitis R, Lawrence AJ and Palmer LM (2023), ‘Cocaine regulates sensory filtering in cortical pyramidal neurons’, Cell Reports, 42(2):112122–112122. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112122
  • La Terra D, Bjerre A-S, Rosier M, Masuda R, Ryan TJ and Palmer LM (2022), ‘The role of higher order thalamus during learning and correct performance in goal-directed behavior’, eLife, 11, doi:10.7554/elife.77177

Contact us

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